While there is widespread (often irrational) fear of rattlesnakes, snake bites from rattlers are uncommon. The western rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) common to Central Washington is not aggressive and won't strike you if left alone. Most bites from rattlers occur when people accidentally step on them or when they accidentally put their hand beside a snake while scrambling.To greatly reduce the odds of such accidents, use trekking poles this time of year on local trails. With poles you can sweep the sides of the trail ahead of you while walking. You can rattle bushes and shrubs you’re approaching, you can thump rocks and tree trunks you’ll be stepping on or over. You can pre-probe areas where you might be reaching with your hands. All of this gives you and snakes time to react to each other.If you do encounter a snake, don’t poke or kill it. Just walk around it. Keep the basket of the pole between the two of you -- you'll like the security of knowing you can deflect the snake should it move toward you (it won’t). Furthermore, the pole keeps the snake’s attention off you while you’re stepping around it. Click here for more tips and cool snake facts from WenatcheeOutdoors.org

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